– The adventures of a solo round the world cyclist –

Day 946 (Turkey Day 25)

Not only was my water frozen this morning, but so too was my milk (partially), which I’d kept just inside the tent. It was so cold outside my tent that my main drink bottle (which didn’t freeze while inside my tent thanks to its neoprene cover) began to freeze once it was in the open air. After finishing breakfast, I’d put some water in the bowl to wash it out with, placing the bowl on the ground outside for just a couple of minutes. When I went to empty it I found it had frozen solid with the spoon stuck in it.

I managed to stay warmer through the night than yesterday because I completely rugged up: two pairs of socks, long johns, boxers, two thermal tops, gloves, beanie and thick neck buff. When the temperature reached its lowest point, my head only stayed warm because I pulled the buff over my head and face. This also helped to block out the light of the moon, which will be full tomorrow. The buff is thin enough that I can breathe through it fine, but good enough to keep the cold off.

I changed my routine again to try and stay warmer longer, today having breakfast inside my tent rather than after packing up camp. As soon as I was out of my sleeping bag my hands and feet got freezing cold to the point of being painful and they didn’t warm up until long after I’d started riding.

Despite the cold, I succeeded in getting moving earlier than yesterday. Today I rode with more clothes on than ever before. Even so, my feet and hands continued to freeze and I think I need to consider wearing my waterproof socks. While I was feeling so cold, I began to replan my route in my mind, thinking I should keep to the coast in an effort to avoid dealing with such cold every morning for the next couple of months. Once I began to warm up I quickly forgot the pain and began to think ‘this isn’t so bad’. Maybe if I adapt a little more I will be able to deal with it fine. Overall I am appreciating the experience – I have said I wanted to discover what it’s like to ride in cold weather and now I’m finding out.

The ride was pleasurable with no major climbs, just low rolling hills. For much of the day I had the grand peak of Mount Erciyes in my sights. My main milestone along the way was Develi, which appeared to be a welcoming city with a nice atmosphere. As I left, the road was generally flat and I began to realise I was making good progress. I even thought it might be possible to make it all the way to Goreme (a 120km day). When I reached BP (major intersection) I looked at my map and assessed my options. Riding would likely mean a big climb for about 15km before a descent. It would be possible to complete the climb but it would get dark during the descent. Not wanting to venture into the night, I decided to wipe this option and look for others. Next to BP was a nice building with a barely readable ‘Otel’ sign on top. I became tempted enough to check the price, but discovered that the hotel is closed. Keen to avoid suffering another cold night outside, I asked BP if I could camp under the hotel’s verandah. No, they said, but I could camp in front. I had some time so I thought I would give BP some patronage and treat myself to a coke and chocolate bar. After about half an hour I was approached by the manager and told that that I couldn’t camp there after all. Instead, I was shown a patch of dirt out the front of the petrol station. It was clear BP didn’t want me on their property at all.

Annoyed at having even less time to find a place to camp, I left BP and entered the small road towards Goreme Historical National Park. Still determined to avoid ice overnight I crossed my fingers that I would find a derelict building to camp in. Just before the train tracks I explored a track off to the right leading to a property that looked very quiet. At the start was a building with a little porch the size of a tent. Option number one. Not a great option however, as the porch is within sight of the road and through the windows I could see some fruit and clothes and tables and chairs, revealing that it wasn’t a completely abandoned building. Against the building was a shed with wooden doors slightly ajar. Inside was enough space for a tent. It was also nice and warm inside, away from the ice-cold breeze. Option number two. A few hundred metres away was another building with enough space outside for a small tent. Option number three. Overall the area felt empty and I gained the impression the place is only used during harvest season. In the surrounding fields the grapevines are dying. After a bit of deliberation I made my decision and snuck into the shed. Influencing my decision were a number of factors, including the fact that I hadn’t heard any dogs around, the way the vines were growing around the doors to the shed showed that the doors hadn’t been opened or closed in a long time, and there were no fresh tracks on the access road or around the entrance to the shed.

I am writing my diary as I complete my end of day tasks. I have just been sitting quietly for a while getting acquainted with the noises: a woodpecker on a tree, the vines rustling against the door as birds land on them, traffic on the road pausing before crossing the train tracks…

I have just set up my tent and got a shock when I unrolled it. This morning my fly had a good coating on frost on it and rather than wipe it off and dry the tent before packing it up, I’d simply rolled it up with the frost inside, placing it in a plastic bag to catch the water as the ice melted. When I unrolled the tent this evening, I was surprised to discover that the tent was still covered in frost – it had been so cold all day that it hadn’t melted.

I am now cooking dinner while watching the doors for signs of life. The greatest threat to my sanctum is the seemingly deafening rustle of the plastic bags I have all my food wrapped in. There are gaps between the wooden slats making up the shed door, so while it’s still light I can see out but no one can see in.

I have just snuck out or a pee to be confronted with a breathtaking sight: the full moon having just fully risen up from behind Mount Erciyes, the sky still pale blue, the peak ghostly white, the vineyards just holding their dead bronze colour before the darkness turns everything grey.

Now I’m in bed and it’s delightfully cosy. There won’t be any ice tonight. The only annoying thing is that I am right next to a train crossing. There have been at least five trains go past since I have been here and each one sounds like a freight train going past my head. The crossing signal is also super loud.

Frozen

Accommodation Free-camp
Distance ridden today 81.51km
Average cycling speed 18kph
Total distance ridden 25,624km

One Response to “Day 946 (Turkey Day 25)”

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